Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

When should I worry that my child’s feelings or behaviors may be a problem?

What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s behavior?

What kinds of treatments are available for children?

Does treatment require medication?

How do I find services for my child?  I have insurance.

How do I find services for my child?  I do not have insurance.

Where can I get help right away?  I’m afraid for my child’s safety.

If my child is having trouble with behavior at home or in school, does that mean he/she is “crazy”?

 

 

 

When should I worry that my child’s feelings or behaviors may be a problem? (Back to top)

All children misbehave or “act up,” feel sad, or argue with their siblings or classmates at one time or another. Usually this is considered typical or “normal” childhood behavior and not a cause for concern. In some cases, however, when a child is defiant or angry most of the time or often seems to be unhappy, or when many of the people involved with a child (e.g., parents, teachers, child care providers) report having problems, it may be appropriate to seek professional help.    

Read the section Signs of Problems and Disorders to learn about common emotional and behavioral problems that children experience, and when these problems may be serious enough to require professional attention.


What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s behavior? (Back to top)

A good place to start is with your pediatrician or primary care doctor.  He/she can rule out certain medical problems that could be involved and provide guidance about whether your child’s behaviors are within the range of what’s considered “normal” child development or if the behaviors need further evaluation. Your doctor may be able to recommend specific resources to help you and your child.

You can also talk to others you trust, such as family members or close friends, the teachers or administrators at your child’s school, or your minister, and they may be able to offer suggestions about steps you can take to get help.

The good news is, mental health problems among children are very treatable.

Read through the sections Evaluation and Treatment and Getting Professional Help to learn more.

 
What kinds of treatments are available for children? (Back to top) 

An array of treatments are available for children with mental health problems. An evaluation by a mental health professional can help determine whether treatment is needed, and if so, what kind.

Parents should remember that they are experts on their child; they know their child’s strengths and needs, and what has worked – or not worked – in the past. Both the parent and the child should be involved in developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment options include outpatient counseling and therapy (sometimes including medication), family education and support programs, intensive home-based services, day treatment services, therapeutic group homes, treatment in a residential facility, and in cases of serious problems, inpatient hospitalization for a limited period of time.

Read the section Treatment for Children to learn more.


Does treatment require medication?(Back to top)

Although medication may be recommended by a physician, this is not always the case. Generally, if medication is suggested, it will be used as part of a recommended treatment plan which may also include counseling or behavioral interventions. As a parent, you always have the right to decide whether or not to accept any specific treatment recommendation, and you should feel comfortable talking about any concerns you may have with your health care provider.

Read about the use of medication in the section on Treatment for Children.


How do I find services for my child?  I have insurance.
(Back to top)

Obtaining timely, non-emergency services for a child with mental health needs can be challenging, even with insurance. There are shortages of certain types of providers, and providers may only accept certain insurance plans or have limitations on the numbers of patients they will accept with certain plans.

If your family has private health insurance, either through your employer or an individual policy, it’s a good idea to first check with the insurance company to determine what is required to obtain mental health services; some insurers require a referral from a primary care doctor or that you choose from a list of approved mental health providers. Many private insurance companies have searchable databases that allow users to search for a provider who accepts their insurance plan.

If you have insurance for your child through FAMIS or FAMIS Plus, check with the managed care company (MCO) that delivers your health care to find out about coverage for mental health care through these programs.  

Children with insurance may be able to obtain some services through the state’s public system for mental health care. There are 40 Community Services Boards (CSBs) across the state that provide varying types of services to children, including emergency services and case management services for children with seriously emotional disturbance. Children who meet certain criteria may also be able to obtain services through their public schools or the publicly-funded Comprehensive Services Act for High-Risk Youth and Families (CSA).   

Get more information and links to provider databases in the section Getting Professional Help.


How do I find services for my child?  I do not have insurance.
(Back to top)

A first step to getting help may be to see whether your child qualifies for affordable health insurance. Health insurance can be critical to obtaining non-emergency health services. If your family meets certain income guidelines, your child may qualify for state-supported insurance through FAMIS or FAMIS Plus (Children’s Medicaid). The process is designed so that children can quickly become eligible to receive health services. Visit the FAMIS website to learn more.

If you don’t have insurance and your child doesn’t qualify for FAMIS or FAMIS Plus, you may need to personally cover the costs for mental health services, available through either a public or private mental health provider. Some providers base their charges on a client’s income or will negotiate a payment plan. This fee arrangement is sometimes referred to as a sliding scale.  

There are limited child mental health services available through the state’s 40 publicly-funded Community Services Boards (CSBs). Emergency services and case management services for children with serious emotional disturbance are mandated; some CSBs provide additional services. These services are often available on a sliding scale to families.

Children who meet certain criteria may also be able to obtain services through their public schools or the publicly-funded Comprehensive Services Act for High-Risk Youth and Families (CSA). 

Get more information and links to provider databases in the section Getting Professional Help.

Information on free or low-cost health services in the Richmond area


Find a Free Clinic (Virginia Association of Free Clinics)

Affordable Care Act - Help VA

Bon Secours Care-A-Van (Check the Care-A-Van calendar under "News & Events" on their webpage.)


Where can I get help right away?  I’m afraid for my child’s safety.
(Back to top)

If you believe your child may be in danger of hurting him/herself or someone else, you can get immediate help by calling 911 or visiting the closest hospital emergency room.  Emergency/crisis services are also available through local Community Services Boards (CSBs). To find your local CSB emergency/crisis phone numbers, click here.

To talk to a trained crisis worker on the phone, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Your call will be automatically routed to a counselor at the crisis center nearest you. 


If my child is having trouble with behavior at home or in school, does that mean he/she is “crazy”?
(Back to top)

Parents often worry what others will think if they or their children seek mental health services. Most people, including the mental health professional community, recognize that seeking help and appropriate care for individuals with mental health needs is a healthy and constructive approach to solving a problem. There is no reason to feel shame or embarrassment about seeking help with mental health issues. There are many people of all ages who have faced similar situations, found help and support, and are leading healthy, productive lives.

 

 

 

Date Reviewed: October 29, 2014